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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-18

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 18, 2004


  • [01] Organizers dismiss claims of low fan turnout at venues; sales figures surpass Barcelona
  • [02] Cabinet discusses drive against bureaucracy; PM incensed over Kenteris-Thanou, sources say
  • [03] IOC president inaugurates "Art and Sport" exhibition
  • [04] Judo (men's 81 kg) - Iliadis wins the gold
  • [05] Athens mayor holds consecutive meetings with Barcelona and Dublin counterparts
  • [06] London Mayor visits Athens Metro
  • [07] U.S. President Bush hails return of Olympic Games to Greece
  • [08] Kenteris-Thanou police report to be submitted Thursday
  • [09] Filothei mayor testifies about fire in nearby forest
  • [10] Irish athlete in hospital after road accident
  • [11] Shot-put event in ancient Olympia
  • [12] Andrew A. Athens proposes world coordinated action by Parliamentarians union, SAE on national issues
  • [13] Communist party expresses solidarity for Palestinian detainees and hunger strikers
  • [14] Olympic city Thessaloniki presents candidacy for hosting Expo 2008 international exhibition
  • [15] Industry chief backs Greece as investment venue
  • [16] Stocks rise in buying spree
  • [17] Call Centre to operate 24 hours
  • [18] Tourism Ministry organizes "Night of Greek Gastronomy and Music"
  • [19] Cyprus FM warns of efforts to deviate from Republic of Cyprus
  • [20] Cyprus FM says no proposal made to ICAO & Eurocontrol for occupied area
  • [21] Cyprus reports to Annan illegal exploitation of Greek Cypriot property

  • [01] Organizers dismiss claims of low fan turnout at venues; sales figures surpass Barcelona

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC) on Tuesday countered mostly foreign press reports claiming that some venues at the ongoing Games are empty, stressing that an initial Games target of three million tickets has been easily surpassed.

    ATHOC executive director Marton Simitsek said 3.285 million tickets have been sold so far, with a hefty 78,154 sold the previous day alone. Greek organizers have repeatedly pointed to Barcelona's total (3.021 million) in 1992 to dispute any notion of lagging ticket sales. Seoul in 1988 recorded 2.7 million ticket sales.

    "I believe we will surpass the 3.5-million-ticket mark," Simitsek told reporters at ATHOC's daily morning press briefing.

    Other ATHOC officials noted that the events program has been publicized for two years now, whereas there is absolutely no issue of free tickets being distributed.

    The only apparent 'thorn' during the first days of the 2004 Games apparently involves actual attendance of ticket-holders at certain venues, primarily at the morning events, however, and especially at lesser-known sports.

    Nevertheless, spectators at Monday's badminton competition at the Goudi Olympic Hall, for instance, numbered around 2,000 -- albeit few locals were in attendance.

    [02] Cabinet discusses drive against bureaucracy; PM incensed over Kenteris-Thanou, sources say

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    In a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, government ministers discussed a drive by the Interior and Public Administration ministry to cut down red tape for a number of processes related to investments and protection of citizens. After the meeting, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the cabinet had approved a presidential decree that reduces the number of signatures needed in 90 different civil service procedures from six or seven to no more than three.

    According to sources, the meeting did not touch on the Olympics currently underway in Athens nor on the highly public and embarrassing doping controversy surrounding Greece's top two sprinters, Katerina Thanou and Costas Kenteris, the gold medalist in the men's 200m race at the Sydney Olympics.

    Other sources, however, claim that the prime minister is highly displeased with the events surrounding the two athletes and has asked to be kept up to date on developments concerning their case. The same sources say the government is determined to "clean up" sports in Greece while noting that the government cannot at this stage intervene in matters that are for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide.

    The two athletes are currently in hospital recovering from an alleged motorbike accident and are due to appear before an IOC disciplinary commission on Wednesday to explain why they were not available to take a doping control test the previous Thursday, before their accident took place. The IOC has stressed that it's concern is focused on whether the two athletes flouted anti-doping procedure and not on whether they have or have not taken controlled substances.

    [03] IOC president inaugurates "Art and Sport" exhibition

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    IOC President Jacques Rogge inaugurated on Tuesday the "Art and Sport" exhibition of awarded artwork, organized by IOC in the framework of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games.

    Rogge said the first competition was organized for the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, with literature, architecture, art and sculpture works. The competition continued up until the 1948 London Games and returned in 2000 at the Sidney Olympics with works of art and sculpture from around the world.

    The exhibition is hosted by the Athens municipality Spiritual Centre.

    [04] Judo (men's 81 kg) - Iliadis wins the gold

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    Ilias Iliadis of Greece won the gold medal in the men's judo event in the 81 kg category on Tuesday. The 18-year old athlete beat the Ukraine's Roman Gontyuk. Russia's Dimitri Nossov and Brazil's Flavio Canto won the bronze.

    Karamanlis congratulates judo gold medalist: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis congratulated Ilias Iliadis, the 18-year old athlete who won the gold in the men's judo tournament (81kg) on Tuesday, with the following statement: "Ilias Iliadis' gold victory is the reward for his hard work and his great talent. I express my sincere congratulations to our Olympic champion."

    House Speaker congratulates Greek Olympic medalists: President of the Greek Parliament Anna Psarouda-Benaki sent on Tuesday a congratulatory message to 18-year-old Greek Olympic gold medalist Ilias Iliadis, who won the country's second gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games.

    "We admire your persistence, you fighting spirit, your thirst for victory. You have given us, apart from the gold medal, the conviction that Greek judo has a bright future. I congratulate you warmly," Benaki said.

    Iliadis won the gold medal in the men's judo event in the 81 kg category, when he beat Ukraine's Roman Gontyuk.

    Earlier today, Benaki had sent another message to the Greek gold medalist Nikolaos Siranidis and Thomas Bibis who won the country's first gold medal on Monday in the men's three-meter synchronized diving.

    "You have made all the Greeks proud! Quietly, away from the limelight, you have trained all these years under difficult circumstances and you are worthy of your victory, at an important time for Greece. This is a brilliant victory. I congratulate you warmly," she said in a letter to the two athletes.

    Benaki sent a congratulatory message to another Greek Olympic medalist Leonidas Sampanis who won the bronze medal in weight-lifting 62 kg saying that "the medal you won, the first in the Athens Olympic Games, is another confirmation of your sporting stature and your ethos. Warm congratulations."

    PASOK president congratulates Greek gold medalist: George Papandreou, president of the main opposition party PASOK, sent on Tuesday a congratulatory message to Ilias Iliadis, 18, from Greece who won the gold medal in judo in the 81 kg category.

    "Heart-felt congratulations for the second gold and the third in a row medal for Greece. Our country has many new athletes who possess immense capability and we are sure that they will bring us more distinctions," the message said.

    [05] Athens mayor holds consecutive meetings with Barcelona and Dublin counterparts

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis held consecutive meetings with her counterparts from Barcelona Juan Clos I. Matheu, and Dublin Michael Conaghan on Tuesday.

    The meetings were held in the framework of the Athens mayor's meetings with her foreign counterparts who are in Athens on the occasion of the Olympic Games.

    Athens Mayor congratulates Iliadis on winning the gold: Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis congratulated 18-year old athlete Ilias Iliadis on winning the gold medal in the men's judo event (81 kg) immediately after hearing of his victory.

    "My sincere congratulations on your great victory. All of Greece is celebrating the gold medal you won for the country. Your impressive victory in a sports event such as judo, in which Greece is being distinguished for the first time, proves that with perseverance and hard work we can achieve a lot. Every Greek thanks you for the joy and pride you gave us and we wish you continued success in the future," Bakoyannis stated.

    Athens mayor congratulates Greek gold medalists: Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis has congratulated Greek athletes Thomas Bimis and Nicos Syranides for winning the gold medal in the 3-metre springboard synchronized diving event, in the context of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games.

    "I extend warm congratulations for your great success, which gave Greece its first gold medal in these Games. All Greeks thank you for the joy and pride you have offered us," she said, wishing them every success in future events.

    [06] London Mayor visits Athens Metro

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    London Mayor Ken Livingstone said he was impressed with the Athens Metro and with the city's urban transport system in general - at least as it is operating during the Athens Olympics - after visiting the Syntagma metro station on Tuesday.

    Attiko Metro Operations Company (AMEL) executives briefed the mayor on services provided both Games-time and in general, and gave him a tour of the archaeological finds which are on display at the Syntagma station. Livingstone also visited the metro's operations centre.

    Livingstone described the Athens metro as an excellent and modern system and noted that London is also in the process of adding two new lines to its existing system, giving city residents more reasons to leave their cars at home and use public transport.

    Asked about the Parthenon Marbles and his views on the issue, Livingstone said: "I hope that an agreement will be reached soon. It really is wrong that Greeks and foreign visitors cannot see the marbles within the context of their environment. I am optimistic that a solution allowing this to happen will be found soon."

    [07] U.S. President Bush hails return of Olympic Games to Greece

    WASHINGTON 18/8/2004 (ANA/T.Ellis)

    In a radio address, US President George W. Bush on Tuesday said "in Greece, the Olympics are returning to their ancient birthplace, and also the birthplace of democracy" and noted that "these games arrive at a challenging hour for the world -- yet we have cause for great hope."

    The US president said that "at the opening ceremony, Team USA marched alongside men and women from Afghanistan and Iraq, nations that four years ago knew only tyranny and repression. Today because the world acted with courage and moral clarity, those nations are free and their athletes are competing in the Olympic Games in Athens.''

    He paid tribute to the athletes from 200 countries and said the US was proud of its talented men and women team, who carry on a proud Olympic tradition, which extends back to the first modern Games, held in Athens in 1896.

    Bush said that millions of fans will cheer around 500 US athletes in stadiums in Athens and in living rooms at home.

    He said the pride of the American people for the records and the successes of their athletes and the raising of the flag after each medal will be great.

    "Success in the Olympics is not defined on the medal stand, alone. For our athletes, a place on America's team is the culmination of years spent training and competing. They are proving that persistence and teamwork can help meet high goals.

    "They are performing with honor, conducting themselves with humility, and serving as ambassadors of peace and goodwill to the entire world. By showing respect for every competitor, they are showing America's respect for the world, and they are inspiring us all," he said of the American athletes.

    "The rise of freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq is transforming life in those nations" he said, and noted that for the first time women participate in the team from Afghanistan and pointed to the victory of the Iraqi soccer team which thrilled the world.

    "By coming together in competition, all Olympians are sending the message that freedom and hope are more powerful than terror and despair."

    He expressed the gratitude of the American people to the US soldiers serving abroad and congratulated the US athletes and coaches as well as the athletes training for the Paralympics, which begin in Athens next month.

    [08] Kenteris-Thanou police report to be submitted Thursday

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greek police will submit by Thursday, at the latest, a report on a motorcycle accident, in which Olympic medalists Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were involved, in order to complete the file on this case.

    The two Greek sprinters are to appear on Wednesday before an IOC (International Olympic Committee) Disciplinary Commission to explain why they had failed to be available for drug testing last Thursday. The two Olympic medalists from past Games were involved in a motorcycle accident late Thursday night and ended up staying in hospital for five days.

    According to sources, the report of medical examiner Philip Koutsaftis, who examined Kenteris and Thanou on Monday, was sent to the traffic police on Tuesday afternoon.

    The same sources said that the person who took the two athletes to the hospital on the night of the accident reported the incident to the police on Monday night and not before as nobody had contacted him with regard to the accident.

    The eye witness claims that he/she was behind the motorcycle the two were riding and saw it fall. The individual immediately took them to KAT hospital, without knowing who they were. He dropped them off and left a contact number.

    A second witness has claimed to have passed by the site of the accident and saw the motorcycle tipped over, just as the athletes were getting into the car of the first witness on their way to the hospital.

    Damage to the motorcycle reveals that it did fall. According to the above sources, Koutsaftis says in his report that Kenteris has scratches on his right calf and left elbow indicating a fall. However, Kotsaftis did not find Kenteris suffering from head injuries as was stated in the first hospital report.

    Katerina Thanou has no injury whatsoever.

    The two top Greek sprinters were discharged from hospital on Tuesday: Speaking to reporters, Kenteris said he had never used any forbidden substances and expressed certainty that he would be cleared by the Commission.

    On leaving the hospital, Thanou said she was disappointed by press reports over the past few days and noted she was awaiting Wednesday's IOC decision.

    [09] Filothei mayor testifies about fire in nearby forest

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    Filothei mayor Theofrastos Economides gave a testimony on Tuesday to the public prosecutor of the Court of the First Instance Spyros Mouzakitis, who is looking into Saturday's fire at Tourkovounia.

    Economides remained at the public prosecutor's office for about an hour, after which he told reporters that he had faith in justice.

    The mayor had brought a charge against all those responsible for the fire that broke out and burned a square kilometer of forest land.

    According to the fire brigade, the blaze was caused by a fireworks display during a reception hosted by Gianna Angelopoulos, president of the Athens 2004 board, at her nearby residence.

    [10] Irish athlete in hospital after road accident

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    Jamie Costin, a 27-year-old athlete from Ireland, was seriously injured at noon on Tuesday in a road accident, in Porto Heli.

    Costin, in Athens to participate in the 2004 Olympic Games walk race of 5.000 meters, is now in a state hospital recovering from his injuries to the legs and the waist.

    Greek police have said that the Irish athlete was in a rented car and was heading towards his hotel when for unknown yet reasons he ended up on the opposite side of the road and collided with a lorry carrying water.

    Police, who are investigating the circumstances under which the accident occurred, have not ruled out the possibility of that Costin may have got confused while driving as in Ireland they drive on the left.

    [11] Shot-put event in ancient Olympia

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    The qualifying rounds and finals in the men's and women's shot-put discipline will be held on Wednesday at the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the Stadium of Ancient Olympia.

    Athens 2004 has agreed to take every caution in order to preserve this historical venue, so there will be no electronic scoreboards or lighting, or any temporary seating arrangements for spectators. The only modern element will be the movable throwing circles.

    For the accommodation of athletes, media representatives and spectators, the facilities of the International Olympic Academy in Olympia will be used, where there are provisions for catering, and a modern stadium, which will be used for training and as a warm-up facility.

    The new conference centre of the International Olympic Academy will be used for press conferences and as a work area for media representatives.

    Medals will be awarded to both men and women on August 20th, in the Olympic Stadium in Athens.

    [12] Andrew A. Athens proposes world coordinated action by Parliamentarians union, SAE on national issues

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    The establishment of a group to set a common agenda and coordinated global action on national issues between the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Union (WHIU) and the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) has been proposed by Andrew A. Athens, president of SAE, at a conference and follow-up meetings attended by more than 170 Hellenes who hold major elected office in various countries, a SAE press release from Athens said on Tuesday.

    "The Union has members in elected government bodies, usually Parliaments, worldwide and SAE is an established grassroots organization on every continent," Athens stated at the 5th international meeting of WHIU. "We can complement each other's potential for the benefit of helping people and governments worldwide to understand the Hellenic culture, and the human values and sense of justice that guide our concerns on the ethno-religious issues," he proposed a day after the Opening Ceremony of the 28th Olympic Games in Athens that he attended with the members of the parliamentary union.

    Demetrios Giannos, president of WHIU, said he was "thrilled'' with the proposal and said that "a combined ad hoc committee can be formed to help prioritize the issues of interest to Hellenes worldwide." He predicted that the favorable climate created by the successful historic Olympics and other recent events, such as Greece's winning the European championship in soccer, provide an excellent worldwide climate of to highlight Hellenes issues and accomplishments.

    At a separate meeting, George Sourlas, 2nd Vice President of the Hellenic Parliament with responsibility for the Diaspora, endorsed the concept of active cooperation between the two organizations, which he characterized as "natural" since one organization consists of a formal group of knowledgeable elected officials and the other consists of the body of Hellenes worldwide. Members of WHIU expressed strong interest about the proposal and some suggested the implementation should begin before the end of the year.

    The parliamentarians' conference was also attended by many members of the Hellenic Parliament including its President Anna Psarouda-Benaki who inaugurated the conference.

    The four-day conference was held in the port city of Nafplion, southern Greece, and was attended by elected officials from Argolis, and the Hellenes and philhellenes from more than 15 countries including the U.S., Russia, Australia, Austria, Germany, Georgia, Lithuania, Romania, Ukraine, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Belgium, France, Albania and Latvia.

    [13] Communist party expresses solidarity for Palestinian detainees and hunger strikers

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Tuesday, expressed solidarity for the 8,000 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons and in particular for the 1,500 hunger strikers who are protesting unacceptable detention conditions, without charges being filed and without the possibility of contacting a lawyer and their families, under conditions which are the same as those at Guantanamo and the dungeons of Iraq.

    KKE added that the Israeli government is proceeding with a new escalation of its policy, during the ongoing Olympic Games, infringing all international treaties once again and ignoring condemnation for the "wall of shame."

    The US, the European Union and the governments of various countries, including that of Greece, are jointly responsible for this new provocation, since they are taking no action and tolerating and encouraging these actions with their stance as well, the announcement added.

    [14] Olympic city Thessaloniki presents candidacy for hosting Expo 2008 international exhibition

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Olympic city Thessaloniki on Tuesday presented its candidacy file for hosting the Expo 2008 international exhibition to journalists from all over the world covering the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, at an impressive audio-visual event at the Zappeion Press Center.

    Thessaloniki -- the capital of the prefecture of Thessaloniki -- which is competing with the Italian city of Trieste and the Spanish city of Zaragoza (Saragossa), has presented a comprehensive candidacy file for the Expo 2008 to the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions' (BIE), which is expected to decide on the host city in December.

    The theme for Expo 2008 proposed in the Thessaloniki candidacy is "Terra Mater: Knowledge of the Earth, Agriculture and Nutrition".

    Minister for Macedonia-Thrace and chairman of the candidacy Executive Secretariat Nikos Tsiartsonis, General Secretary for the Region of Central Macedonia George Tsiotras, Thessaloniki Prefect Panayotis Psomiadis, and Expo 2008 Project Manager Evripidis Pozrikidis -- all members of the candidacy Executive Secretariat, outlined the various aspect's of Thessaloniki's bid file to the press, to the background of a video-presentation of the city's cultural heritage and ultra-modern venues.

    Tsiartsonis stressed the significance of this international event for the city of Thessaloniki and the greater region, but also the Balkan peninsula and SE Europe, as it would be the first BIE-sanctioned international exhibition to be held in SE Europe.

    In organizing the 2008 world exposition -- the first was held in London in 1851 -- the objective is to render the region of Macedonia "one of the most important European crossroads with connections and intersections that would serve all of Southeastern Europe".

    "We have worked very hard to achieve our goal," the minister said, adding that the candidacy "will bring development to the whole region, considering Thessaloniki's geographical location between East and West".

    He said the theme proposed by Thessaloniki was "very significant and contemporary".

    "We support peaceful coexistence and parity (equality) among all nations without prejudice regarding their individual economic development", Tsiartsonis said, adding that the Thessaloniki theme was equally important for the developing and the economically advanced countries, providing them with the opportunity to "cooperate and make a standpoint" on the technological challenges of our time and work together to tackle such problems as overpopulation, desertification and malnutrition.

    Thessaloniki's candidacy, he continued, has received wide support from all the Greek political parties, the local authorities, the Greek people, and Greeks abroad, while the Greek government has pledged to cover the entire financial cost of the project.

    The importance of the bid for Expo 2008 was underscored in a video-taped message by prime minister Costas Karamanlis to the presentation, stressing the "great significance for the wider region of SE Europe" that the exhibition's staging in Thessaloniki would have, while he also stressed Greece's goal that Thessaloniki's organization will "contribute to further enhancing the institution" of the world Expos.

    Also addressing the press, Tsiotras focused on Thessaloniki's rich cultural heritage, which was as equally important as its commercial and economic tradition, noting that Thessaloniki was the not only the homeland of Alexander the Great, named after his sister, but also the birthplace of the philosopher Aristotle.

    Psomiadis, in turn, said that that Thessaloniki's bid for the Expo 2008 was not only a national cause but also a Balkan one. Although a late starter in the bidding process, "we have been running ever since and have covered much of the lost ground", although there was still a long road ahead.

    The prefect said that he had never expected such great interest in Thessaloniki's candidacy as that manifested by the prime minister and many government ministers -- the presentation was attended by deputy foreign minister Evripidis Stylianidis and agriculture minister Savvas Tsitouridis) -- but added that many more political figures needed to lend a helping hand, including main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou given the latter's many contacts with foreign officials during his years as foreign minister.

    Thessaloniki's Expo 2008 project manager Kyriakos Pozrikidis said the Thessaloniki of today was a "confident European city ready to meet the modern-day challenges" and a fast-growing urban center, while it was a transport junction in Europe.

    Its further credentials included Cultural Capital of Europe in 1997, home of the internationally-respected Helexpo-Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), and an Olympic City in 2004, Pozrikidis said, adding that 91.8 percent of the local population and the business community supported the Expo 2008 candidacy, while its volunteer program was also impressive and wide-scale.

    Thessaloniki, he said, was "a city in eternal motion".

    [15] Industry chief backs Greece as investment venue

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greece is an attractive venue for investors abroad with improvements in the economy achieved over the last 20 years anticipated to continue to bear fruit in the future, industry chief Odysseas Kyriakopoulos said on Tuesday.

    "The country is equipped with modern infrastructure, with the capital we expected from the EU, and a new government that backs companies and believes in a market economy," the president of the Federation of Greek Industry told a meeting of Athens Business Club 2004, which is designed to spur entrepreneurial contacts during the Olympics.

    "We have suitably trained human resources, possessing an in-depth knowledge of the wider region, and the economy will continue to grow at rates higher than the European Union average, offering major opportunities for investments to whoever hurries to take advantage of them," Kyriakopoulos said.

    Over the last eight years, growth has been double the EU average with industry contributing 58 percent of Greek exports and more than 23 percent of domestic employment.

    "The outlook for the economy is optimistic due to domestic demand and exports with a number of economic sectors showing a powerful upturn or growth this year," Kyriakopoulos said.

    In addition, the Athens 2004 Olympics had fuelled major infrastructure projects, aided by capital from the EU and the European Investment Bank, he added.

    Among those attending the event entitled "Doing Business in Greece" were the deputy ministers of finance, foreign affairs and tourism.

    [16] Stocks rise in buying spree

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players buying across the board, especially in blue chips and heavily traded paper including telecoms, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,273.90 points, showing a rise of 1.26 percent. Turnover was 75.0 million euros.

    OTE telecom gained jumped by 3.19 percent, and its mobile subsidiary, Cosmote, by 4.02 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.27 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.40 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.53 percent up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 168 to 100 with 77 remaining unchanged.

    [17] Call Centre to operate 24 hours

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    A call centre offering information to tourists in six languages now operates on a 24-hour basis, the Greek Tourism Organization and the Ministry for Tourist Development announced on Tuesday.

    Visitors to Greece can call a toll free four-digit number (1532) and get information of a general and special interest, relating to cultural events, tourist destinations, transport etc. in Greek, English, French German, Spanish and Russian.

    The call centre will also deal with any problems or difficulties visitors may encounter. Visitors to Greece will receive an information card about the centre at points of entry into the country.

    [18] Tourism Ministry organizes "Night of Greek Gastronomy and Music"

    Athens, 18/8/2004 (ANA)

    "We count a lot on your presence in our country, on your objectivity in doing your job, and in promoting our country," Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos told foreign journalists on Tuesday night at Zappeion Hall where the "Night of Greek Gastronomy and Music" was held.

    In discussing the central theme of the evening's event Avramopoulos said, "Why food and gastronomy? Because the tourism ministry decided to rescue and spread the history of Greek cuisine."

    Considering the worldwide acceptance of the Mediterranean diet as a healthy way of eating in combination with the tastiness of Greek cuisine, Avramopoulos emphasized that there are "favorable prospects [in Greece] for producing and exporting products in the food and beverage sector."

    "This country, from many points of view, is an ultimate destination," the minister said. He went on to explain that the ministry's tourism strategy is "focused on the post-Olympics period. These Olympics are a vehicle of development, progress, change and modernization of our country," while at the same time, the country aims to preserve its heritage, tradition and history.

    [19] Cyprus FM warns of efforts to deviate from Republic of Cyprus

    NICOSIA 18/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has sent a message to the international community that efforts to downgrade the Republic of Cyprus with the lifting of the so called "isolation" of Turkish Cypriots under the pretext to economically assist them actually consolidate the division between the two communities on the island.

    Speaking on Monday night at an anti-occupation demonstration organized by Morphou Municipality, the foreign minister said that it should become clear that such efforts "distance us from the vision of reunification and consolidate division and confrontation between the two communities."

    The government, he added, "is called to handle developments in Cyprus," stressing that it has "proposals, the willingness and the strategy which the times call for."

    The Cypriot minister said that in view of the new developments, "we are called to reach a common strategy at the National Council," stressing that the Republic of Cyprus is not willing to forgo its right to defend its independence and sovereignty.

    "Our accession to the EU, the upgrading of our entity gives us the ability to work methodically to allow the prospect for a solution," Iacovou said.

    "We assure our Turkish Cypriot compatriots that we remain committed to a bizonal, bicommunal federation," Minister Iacovou pointed out.

    On the Annan Plan, which the Greek Cypriot rejected overwhelmingly (76 percent) in the April 24, 2004 referendum, the Cypriot minister said that "the elements of injustice and compromise were more than intense," stressing that the government's appeals and efforts during the negotiations at Burgenstock, Switzerland, to reach a settlement "were not observed by those who are today making efforts to impose a vengeful fait accompli."

    At the same time, he added that while everyone had said before the April 24 referenda that the result would be respected, "today there is a systematic effort by well known circles to deviate international law and EU regulations."

    Iacovou said the Annan Plan served all foreign interests and demands without giving attention to the concerns expressed by the Greek Cypriot side.

    Morphou Mayor Charalambos Pittas, in a speech at the gathering said "Cyprus must live and will live in a federal and united country for its people, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins."

    He said "our duty to the people and the island's history is to make every effort for a viable and functional solution that will unite the people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots."

    Pittas underlined "that rapprochement measures are not a solution for us and visits to our occupied land do not in any way constitute a solution to our national problem."

    He said the solution for the people of Morphou is for all barriers to come down and all "roads to open wide so that we can go to every corner of our island, to reunify our people and land and not to live in a divided island."

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.

    [20] Cyprus FM says no proposal made to ICAO & Eurocontrol for occupied area

    LARNACA 18/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    No proposals have been made by Americans and British to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Eurocontrol to legalize flights to and from the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, the island's Foreign Minister George Iacovou has stated.

    He also said that the Cypriot government had not been approached on the issue by either the United States or Britain.

    The Cypriot minister said the government is in touch at high level with the ICAO and Eurocontrol and "knows for sure that such proposals have not been made by any country."

    Speaking on his return on Monday night from Athens where he attended the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, Iacovou said while in Athens he held "a number of contacts with ministers" including his Greek counterpart Petros Molyviatis, while President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos held many contacts with heads of states and governments while in Athens.

    Iacovou said with Molyviatis he talked about the EU Commission regulations for the Turkish Cypriots and the proposal to open Turkish-occupied Famagusta port as well as issues concerning military exercises.

    Regarding the issue of direct trade with the Turkish-occupied areas, Iacovou said he discussed this with his Greek counterpart and the island's permanent representative in Brussels held a meeting last Friday on the issue. However, the first official discussion on the issue will be held on September 2.

    Invited to comment on reports that the US is working for the resumption of the Cyprus dialogue in September and October, Iacovou replied that the only thing he is aware of is the statement by US Secretary of State Colin Powell for a new initiative, which he already welcomed.

    The Cypriot minister said the government is ready to put forward its views and arguments to UN technocrats who are expected to arrive on the island soon to examine the role of the UN peacekeeping force (UNFICYP) on the island.

    Iacovou said the Greek Cypriot side's views on the issue have remained unaltered, "the facts on site have not changed, since there are still 36 thousand Turkish soldiers with heavy armament, mines, as well as enclaved persons." All these elements, he said, had persuaded the international community to dispatch a UN peacekeeping force on the island and to renew its mandate every six months.

    The Cypriot minister said that next week or early September a group of UN experts will arrive on the island to review UNFICYP's mandate since the opening of checkpoints between the free and the occupied territories has created some problems, such as traffic.

    The government, Iacovou added, is ready to see the "UN Secretary-General's representatives on a diplomatic, political and military level."

    [21] Cyprus reports to Annan illegal exploitation of Greek Cypriot property

    UNITED NATIONS 18/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus has informed UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan on the recent intensification of activities related to the illegal exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, through the systematic construction of homes, villas and hotels on Greek Cypriot-owned land and the sale of Greek Cypriot property to foreigners.

    In a letter to Annan, which circulated as a UN document, Cyprus' Charge d'Affaires to the UN Andreas Hadjichrysanthou expresses Cyprus' "strong concern over the unfavorable repercussions that such actions may have on efforts to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem."

    He notes that these actions "further complicate the sensitive issue of property rights and have the potential, if not stopped, of creating a new fait accompli in the de facto division of the island, which was imposed upon Cyprus through the use of military force and sustained by the Turkish occupation army since 1974, in flagrant violation of relevant Security Council resolutions."

    At the same time, he says, they "undermine continuing efforts towards reconciliation and mutual trust between the two communities."

    The Cypriot charge d'Affaires notes the occupation forces actions "constitute a violation of relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and blatantly demonstrate disrespect towards an independent and internationally recognized judicial body."

    He stresses that in the case of the violation of the human rights of Greek Cypriots by Turkey, in general, and of their property rights, in particular, were brought before the European Court of Human Rights, and in the four cases in which the Court issued a ruling (namely, the Loizidou v. Turkey judgment (1996, 1998), the Michaelidou Developments Ltd. and Tymvios v. Turkey judgment (2003), the Demades v. Turkey judgment (2003) and the Cyprus v. Turkey judgment (2001)), it found that Turkey was violating the fundamental right to property of the Greek Cypriot legal owners.

    The judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, underlined Hadjichrysanthou, "clearly established that the administrative practice carried out by the local administration in the occupied area of Cyprus, which is subordinate to Turkey, of issuing 'title deeds' to new occupants of properties belonging to Greek Cypriots is based on the so-called 'legislative' and 'constitutional' provisions of the said administration, which in no case whatsoever can be attributed any legal validity."

    He stresses that the European Court of Human Rights concluded that Greek Cypriot owners could not be deemed to have lost their property and that they had always remained and would continue to remain the only true and lawful owners of their properties in the occupied area of Cyprus.

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